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25 Movies That Drastically Changed During Production

A movie is never truly finished until it is released — and even then, some directors might continue to make changes indefinitely.

Minor tweaks happen to almost every single film during production. However, there are some movies that undergo massive changes, possibly even complete overhauls, during their production. The reasons for these changes vary. In some cases, the original director or writers either quit or were fired. Other times, studio executives demand cuts while the original creators stay on board. Occasionally, budgets grow so large that adjustments are necessary to complete the film. Sometimes, a notorious Hollywood producer gets involved, leading to inevitable changes.

Interestingly, not all movies that undergo such drastic alterations turn out badly. Some become critically acclaimed and highly respected works in the history of cinema. This serves as a reminder that the final quality of a movie can only be truly known once it’s out in theaters and audiences have seen it.

Here are 25 films that underwent significant changes in the middle of production:

25 Movies That Changed Completely During Production

These films started looking one way and ended up looking very different by the time they were actually released.

A well-known example of a movie that changed entirely during production is “Blade Runner.” Originally envisioned as a straightforward adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, it transformed under director Ridley Scott’s vision into one of the most influential science fiction films ever made. Studio interference, budget constraints, and multiple rewrites turned it from a conventional sci-fi thriller into a philosophical exploration of humanity and identity.

Another notable case is “Apocalypse Now.” Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the film underwent major changes due to budgetary issues, a typhoon destroying sets, and actor health problems. Initially planned as a tight, on-schedule production, it morphed into an epic tale of insanity and the chaos of war.

Even animated films are not exempt from such transformations. Disney’s “The Emperor’s New Groove” started as a serious film entitled “Kingdom of the Sun.” Extensive reworking over five years turned it into a lighthearted comedy. The change was the result of creative differences and the realization that the original concept wasn’t working as intended.

Sometimes, the changes are due to shifts in tone. “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” was initially conceived as a drama. However, as the script developed and rehearsals progressed, director Stanley Kubrick opted to turn it into a dark comedy, which ultimately became its defining characteristic.

Another example, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” had numerous scenes cut, reshot, or revised during late-stage production. Changes made to the story and tone included getting rid of certain characters and rewriting the ending to make it more cohesive.

Directors not meeting the studio’s expectations also account for significant changes. Richard Donner was fired from “Superman II” after clashing with producers. Richard Lester took over and re-filmed a vast portion of the movie, creating a different vision than originally conceived.

Even big franchises aren’t immune to drastic changes. “Justice League” saw major alterations when Joss Whedon took over from Zack Snyder due to tragic personal circumstances. The film that reached theaters was a blend of two different directorial styles.

On the flip side, some movies improved immensely after such changes. “Jaws,” directed by Steven Spielberg, faced numerous production nightmares, including a malfunctioning mechanical shark. These issues led to less screen time for the shark and more tension-building scenes, which in hindsight contributed to its status as a classic thriller.

While not all production changes lead to success, some movies thrive under the pressure of creative evolution. It’s a testament to the unpredictable and collaborative nature of filmmaking. Until a film is in front of an audience, it’s a living, breathing entity subject to the influences of everyone involved.

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So, while drastic changes can be a gamble, sometimes they are exactly what a film needs to find its way into cinematic history.

Source: Townsquare Media